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Fade to Black
by Andy
December 1, 2009

By all accounts, NBC was the first major broadcast network in the United States.  It’s been home to Uncle Milty, Johnny Carson, SNL, Seinfeld, David Letterman, ER…  The litany of shows and personalities that are (and were) freely broadcast into our homes is enormous.  Ironically, Survivor is a great programming asset, but a term that no longer applies to the National Broadcasting Company.

NBC has been bought.

Comcast is purchasing 51% state in NBC Universal, which will give it access to a trove of royalty-free content that it can now deliver to consumers – either as part of their basic cable package or premium upgrades.

In one sense, it’s does not really affect how Americans get their NBC programming.  (Remember when we all formally switched over in February?).  Once the game turned 100% digital, cable providers and satellite firms hold all the cards.

Arguably, this is no different than what occurs every day at Home Depot, Target, and at all the other massive retailers.  Manufacturers are held hostage to the discretion of the distribution channels for success.  The billions invested in CPG and durable goods branding and promotions is certainly about generating consumer demand.  But ask any marketer that’s gone thru the annual buying process in Bentonville and they’ll tell you how much distribution influences their investment.

The point reminds us once again that distribution is King.

The infrastructure of business requires that companies leverage their expertise to get and stay ahead.  The market needs experts – always has and always will – and begs for this leadership.  Those firms that help maximize industry efficiency and create the vision and parameters for success are rewarded.  When you are viewed in this light, the market repays your for your expertise with higher revenues and profits.

So how do you gain an upper hand?  First, clearly understand your value proposition and make sure it’s well differentiated and wanted by your target.  Then, articulate that within the business channels.  Assume accurate consumer articulation (ads & promotions).  But, companies that do not expand their purpose within the brains of the industry infrastructure will not get the chance to expand their brands within the hearts of the consumer – at least not the way they’d like.

Distribution is King.  Unless you want to be royally screwed, make sure you’re viewed beyond the products you provide.

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